HC Deb 16 January 1945 vol 407 cc29-30
51. Mr. John Dugdale

asked the Prime Minister on whose authority instructions have been issued that newspaper correspondents may not interview any members of E.L.A.S. forces.

58. Mr. Driberg

asked the Prime Minister why newspaper correspondents in Athens were forbidden by General Scobie to interview spokesmen of the E.L.A.S. forces, although their opponents were permitted at the same time to circulate anti E.L.A.S. propaganda; and if he will urge all those now in authority in Athens, whether British or Greek, to endeavour in their public statements to promote a spirit of conciliation.

The Prime Minister

When delegates come through the lines they are guaranteed safe conduct by the Commander-in-Chief and it would therefore be quite irregular for him to allow them to see any persons other than himself or his duly authorised representatives. Such delegates remain under guard until their return to their own lines. While fighting is in progress it would obviously be undesirable for persons to cross into E.L.A.S. territory and in fact only International Red Cross representatives were allowed to do so.

Mr. Dugdale

In view of the right hon. Gentleman's not inconsiderable experience as a war correspondent himself, why does he not trust British war correspondents to report fully, frankly and with a due sense of responsibility?

The Prime Minister

I am really not going to attempt to give a general measure of complete confidence to all war correspondents wherever they may be and from whatever country they may derive. I am always doubtful about correspondents who go from one side to the other, writing articles.

Mr. Driberg

How is it possible to reconcile the admirable sentiments expressed by the Foreign Secretary, who desired to see a democratic Government of all parties in Greece, including E.A.M., with the truculent remarks of General Plastiras about clearing E.L.A.S. out of Greece altogether?

The Prime Minister

I cannot be responsible for the day-to-day remarks which are made by the Greek Prime Minister. The head of the Greek Government is the Regent, Archbishop Damaskinos, and while I read the various opinions that are put in the newspapers from time to time, I cannot undertake to have the information available to comment accurately upon the statements of the Greek Prime Minister. I have every reason to believe that the present Government, the present dispensation, in Greece is extremely democratic; as a matter of fact, it is composed almost entirely of Republicans.

Mr. Shinwell

Has not my right hon. Friend encouraged General Plastiras to make these observations by his own truculent observations about bandits and all the rest of it?

The Prime Minister

I have sometimes been provoked, I admit, when I have seen the efforts made by some people in this House greatly to add to the difficulties of our troops.